Each year, teams compete in the world’s longest and toughest professional sporting event and arguably sailing’s toughest team challenge – the Volvo Ocean race. This year, one team “Turn the Tide on Plastic’, will be racing to raise awareness on the growing threat of marine plastic in the world’s oceans. This team is also the youngest and only mixed crew ever to compete in the race’s 45-year history!
According to UNEP, it is estimated that more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans each year – the equivalent of emptying a garbage truck of plastic every minute. Plastic waste is wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and causing at least $8 billion of damage to marine ecosystems.
UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign on marine plastics is calling on governments, industry and citizens to end the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic and to eliminate microplastics in cosmetics by the year 2022. So far 32 countries have joined the campaign.
“The adventurers taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race will be making their way to some of the most remote and hostile corners of the globe. But the ugly truth is that they’ll also be encountering lumps of polystyrene along with icebergs, precious marine life that is feeding on plastic mixed up with plankton, or huge islands of floating plastic,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.
“This is a global problem and a global shame, and we’re grateful to have the support of the Turn the Tide on Plastic crew to take this message far and wide. We need urgent, concrete action at all levels and all around the world. If not, we’ll see our oceans turned into a lifeless slurry of garbage.”
Record-breaking British skipper Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions, will stand at the helm of ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ . She is joined by a 14-person crew representing some of the world’s most talented off-shore racers coming from across the globe.
“I feel very privileged to carry UN Environment’s message in this campaign. It’s a topic that engages a great many people and, by taking small steps in the right direction, I think in the end we can make a big difference,” said Caffari.
“I’m proud to be leading the first ever mixed crew with such a strong message of sustainability and diversity. As sailors, we are the voice of the sea and our goal is to spread the message of #CleanSeas and inspire lasting actions in parallel with producing results at the end of the race.”
The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race will take the teams 45,000 nautical miles around the globe, across four oceans, six continents and 12 landmark host cities, finishing in June 2018. Alicante will be the first of seven cities to host an Ocean Summit, bringing together political, business and science leaders to find lasting solutions to marine pollution.
The race legs include: Alicante, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Cape Town, South Africa; Melbourne, Australia; Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China; Auckland, New Zealand; Itajaí, Brazil; Newport, United States; Cardiff, Wales; Gothenburg, Sweden; and The Hague, Netherlands.
UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign is also partnering with 11th Hour Racing, a programme of The Schmidt Family Foundation and founding principal partner of the Volvo Ocean Race sustainability programme, to raise awareness about marine plastic litter and to help restore and protect our oceans for future generations.